If you are one of the many people who have ADHD and are pregnant, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Don't worry, you are not alone! This blog post will provide you with information about ADHD and pregnancy so that you can have the best possible experience. We will discuss symptoms, medication options, the impact of hormones on ADHD, and ideas to help make your pregnancy easier. If you have other forms of neurodivergence, you may find this article also has helpful hints and tools!
ADHD in Pregnancy: How Pregnancy is Different for ADHDers
For people with ADHD, pregnancy can be a very different experience.
The typical symptoms are often worse than they often are during PMS. Except it's 40 weeks of these up and down waves instead of 3-5 days.
Emotional dysregulation, sensory sensitivities, brain fog, and forgetfulness can all increase. Treatment options need to be reassessed because not all doctors approve of all medications.
However, not all of it's bad! While it's unlikely you'll experience pregnancy of pure constant bliss (let's be real, nobody does! Even neurotypicals get morning sickness and extreme moodiness!) Some symptoms feel decent and even sometimes helpful. I know I benefit from the waves of off and on "nesting" I experience and find I'm often more organized around the house during the second half of my pregnancy, as well as the brain fog can make me blissfully oblivious to negativity and I just float through parts of my pregnant life like I'm on a mental cloud.
How to Cope
As any person who has been pregnant can tell you, those nine months are not for the faint of heart.
From the moment you see that positive pregnancy test, your life is turned upside down. You're suddenly dealing with a whole new set of physical and emotional challenges, and it can be tough to cope.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the experience a little easier.
First, spend time with the most supportive people in your life. Talk to them about your concerns and ask them to give you helpful reminders about how your pregnancy can impact you. You can also try helpful self hypnosis or meditations for free on Youtube, or work with a hypnotherapist like myself and see how they can help you regain balance. It's also way easier to be guided then to try to meditate just sitting there in stillness and silence when you have ADHD.
Second, don't be afraid to blame your pregnancy hormones for your mood swings. It's perfectly normal to feel a wide range of emotions during pregnancy, so try to process them without putting pressure on yourself to fix everything.
Lastly, invest in a few key fidgets and tools to help improve your quality of life if you can. Things like white noise machines, an acupressure mat, or even a portable dishwasher (yes, I splurged on one finally during this third pregnancy!) can be lifesavers for pregnant people struggling with stress or changes in ADHD medications or treatment.
So if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, don't forget these tips and tricks for making it through those nine months.
Key Considerations For Your Best ADHD-Friendly Pregnancy Experience
As any person who has ADHD knows, there are a lot of things to think about when it comes to medication and supplements. You want to make sure that you are taking everything you need to be healthy, but you also want to be sure that you are not taking anything that could harm your baby. You also want to make sure you are taking care of your mental health, so you're starting your parenting journey out with your best foot forward.
It can be a tricky balance to strike, but it is important to talk to your doctor about all of the medication and supplements you are taking during your pregnancy. They will be able to help you figure out what is safe and what is not. Do not assume that you have to get off of your medication just because you are pregnant. (Even stimulants don't always pass through the placenta!) There are many options available, and your doctor can help you find the one that is right for you and your baby.
Taking It to the Next Level: How to Make Space for Yourself
If you're like most people, you probably have a lot going on in your life. You might be working full-time, taking care of your home, and trying to maintain some semblance of social life. With ADHD, some of these things, if not all, can be an extra daunting feeling.
And now you're pregnant!
It's no wonder you're feeling overwhelmed.
The good news is that there are ways to make space for yourself during this time. One way is to think about the areas you currently struggle in and how you can make room for yourself to experience all the ebbs and flows that pregnancy brings.
For example, if you're struggling with your executive functioning obligations around work and home, try to minimize or get rid of some of them if need be. This will help you to have more time and energy for yourself and your baby. Basically, what can you cut out? You may be surprised at what others have pushed as a *have to* on you, that isn't. Sure, you need to do your dishes. But whose to say you can't use paper plates and throw them away instead? Sorry mother nature, but I'm doing my best. Right now this is what I've got to give you.
Another way to make space for yourself is to ask for help from friends and family. This can be a lifesaver when you're feeling overwhelmed. So don't be afraid to reach out to your support network during this time in your life. Don't have a support network that feels nourishing? Luckily, we have the internet now. It's amazing what venting and feedback to new internet friends in an online forum can do, or join a mothers group or pregnancy group locally.
The Post-Partum Experience
Labor is hard work. So is breastfeeding. So is looking after a baby. So is managing your mental health and getting enough sleep. No one can tell you how tough it all is regardless of how hard they try. Hearing it and understanding it are two different things.
Those first few months after the baby is born can be some of the toughest of your life. Your hormones are all over the place, you're juggling a million different things, and you're not getting much sleep. It's important to reach out for support during this time, whether from your partner, your friends, or a professional. And it's okay to not be okay. You're doing an amazing job, even if you don't feel like it.
Breastfeeding is a noble ambition. Be extra gentle with yourself, because you may feel more awkward at first or experience sensory sensitivities. It's also okay to do your best, and then do what makes you most comfortable so you have the energy to take care of yourself and your new baby from a more stable place. The formula isn't a failure. Trying to force yourself to do something that makes you feel like your losing your mind and causing sensory overload when there are other options is.
Wrapping Up and My Experience With Being Pregnant with ADHD
I have had 3 pregnancies with ADHD. My first at 18, my second at 25, and my third at 30. While my body thrived most at my youngest, my mind was healthiest during my latest pregnancy. That's because I am (currently pregnant at 30) more self-aware, more able to advocate for myself, and more ready to do the work to achieve peace of mind. I also have the healthiest support system I've ever had in my whole life.
I am still pregnant, so I am not sure how breastfeeding will go, but I'm going to try again. I was able to go about 3 months with my first two kids, and am just proud of myself for trying because I really wanted to be one of those moms that breastfeed until the child is 2 or older. However, I had to mourn, process, and accept that it was not in my best interest. The sensory overwhelm I experience does more harm than good. It took a while, but I radically accept the reality of my neurology and the exchange of the perceived good and the bad that comes with it.
So what if you are young and don't know what you're doing or have a terrible support network?
The best you can do is to get started with compassion for yourself and figure out what it is you need to radically accept and how you might be able to go about it. That may mean freeing your life from people, things, and ideas that do you more harm then good. If you can figure out how to master that, then the rest will follow. Also, make sure you are creating space for yourself with whatever therapy, and if you are in dire straights, whatever state aid is available to you. All you can do is take those baby steps forward as the baby grows. You both deserve it.
Molli Lou Hollows is a Certified Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner, and Blogger who shares useful tools and tips for neurodivergent individuals online. She lives with her neurodivergent family and 2 dogs in Vermont. You can find her work here.